It’s a very sad day in sumo. Until Terunofuji was promoted, the man had won more yusho than the three ozeki. At 40 years old, he would have turned 41 on the first day of the Fall tournament. He entered sumo in 1992. George H. W. Bush was President of the United States, François Mitterrand was President of France. The Soviet Union had just dissolved a few months before. Nirvana was touring its release of Nevermind. Yes, Kurt Cobain was still alive. In sports, the Washington Redskins, led by Mark Rypien beat Jim Kelly’s Buffalo Bills in Superbowl XXVI. The Premier League was just created from the English First Division. Back in Japan, Konishiki won the March yusho.
Kakuryu gave an amazing effort. It was certainly worth the top billing. After a straight forward tachiai, both wrestlers secured double-barrel grips. Hakuho had the first chance at a yorikiri but Kakuryu countered and slid the superzuna out to the straw bales. However, Hakuho was just biding his time and got the yorikiri force-out victory for his 35th Yusho.
In other news, Kotoshogiku henka’d his way to a sketchy kachi-koshi (after the last few days of lackluster, creampuff effort from his opponents). He can’t hang with the big boys so on this website, next tournament I will refer to him as sekiwake. It was Terunofuji’s first show at the rank and he picked up 11 wins! If Kotoshogiku needs to pick up 8 wins in this way, he’s not worthy of the rank. Goeido at least picked up a ninth win against Kisenosato, who finishes on 10-5.
Tochinoshin picked up his 8th win and will likely be komusubi next basho – but he needs to prove that he can win against higher ranked opponents, other than Harumafuji. His first week in the Fall tournament will be rough. He beat Kyokutenho who is likely going to retire. I’m still hoping he’ll compete next tournament because I think he turns 41 in September.
Tochiozan was awarded the Outstanding Performance special prize and Yoshikaze got the Fighting Spirit special prize. He finished with 12 wins, tied with Kakuryu for jun-yusho. The bout with Tochiozan left something to be desired, however. It didn’t seem like a straight up match and should have been redone because Yoshikaze clearly had a false start and Tochiozan just kinda had to go with it.
Osunaarashi (11-4) and Endo (10-5) had very strong tournaments and I’m very happy to see Amuru with 8 wins. Toyohibiki, Seiro, and Satoyama will fall back into Juryo and Hidenoumi may join them.
My battery is running low so I’ll publish now but update later.
Something’s gotten into Hakuho. Kisenosato had no hope today as the Superzuna rocketed him off the dohyo. Kakuryu had more of a match against Goeido. Goeido had the early edge. He really wanted to pick up that 10th win. In a quick, early surge he pushed Kakuryu to the edge but the Yokozuna was able to use the leverage from the straw bales to counter. Goeido stayed on the attack, though, but Kakuryu seemed to be riding it out. Goeido eventually tried an ill-timed throw because Kakuryu pushed him off the cliff.
I’ve seen Ichinojo toy with Kotoshogiku before. Today was not one of those days. Ichinojo appeared to put no effort into this match, as it’s seemed for a few matches this basho. I had high hopes that seeing Terunofuji’s quick rise would light a spark in him but today he just rolled over for the non-ozeki. I hope Terunofuji is better than that. Kotoshogiku is not a champion. He has no hope of being champion, much less a grand champion. He should be demoted.
If Tochiozan wants to be an ozeki, he needs to win these matches against guys like Kaisei more than matches against yokozuna. He has lost to 2 of 3 maegashira so far. He needs consistency against low-ranked guys but if he wins tomorrow, he’s one step toward an ozeki promotion.
Goeido was obliterated by Hakuho. Hakuho basically drove through him at the tachiai, leaving Goeido flailing around, trying to get a hold of anything. Three seconds later, he’d been dropped off the cliff. Kakuryu was not quite so aggressive with Kisenosato. In fact, Kisenosato used his size to gently walk the yokozuna back off the dohyo. It was so quick that when Kakuryu made a slight hobble, it made me wonder if he’s got an ankle issue from yesterday’s hard-fought win over Terunofuji. I tried to find a sign from the earlier match but didn’t see anything. Kisenosato does have a distinct edge in their rivalry, winning the last three straight and four of six since the Mongolian became yokozuna. If there’s any reason why Kisenosato should be upset that he’s not Yokozuna, it should be that he’s so dominant against Kakuryu. He is just far too inconsistent early in tournaments. The last time he started 5-0 was May of 2013. That tournament, his first loss was Day 14 – to Hakuho.
Kagamio picked up his first win since Monday. Unfortunately for Satoyama, that means make koshi and he’s going back to Juryo – where he’ll be joined by Takanoiwa. Interesting fact, Kagamio won the Juryo yusho last tournament. Other than the past three days, he’s been doing pretty well in makuuchi, too. Needless to say, Satoyama’s opponent today was formidable as you could tell by the way he was whipped around by his neck.
In the amusing bout of the day, Sadanofuji and Kotoyuki had quite the slapfest. Kotoyuki had Sadanofuji on the ropes but Sadanofuji was able to dodge to the side and push Kotoyuki off the dohyo. That meant Kotoyuki ended up in the lap of the poor sod in the second row. Oosunaarashi had a great back-and-forth with Tokitenku but eventually prevailed to improve to 9-4. Endo is the first person I’ve seen to lose by hatakikomi and land flat on his back – rather than a belly flop. He falls to 9-4 but is still having a great tournament while Yoshikaze improves to 10-3. Special prize? With newbie Seiro tomorrow, he could finish with a great record.
Kyokutenho has gone off a cliff this tournament, and he gets shoved off one today by Gagamaru. Three straight losses for the 40 year old, his three wins coming from guys ranked M10 and below. It’s a given he’ll be in Juryo next basho but I’m hopeful he can sustain a winning record in there. He had 10 wins as recently as November. His foot is taped so maybe he needs it to heal. If his foot is injured, then I think it’s more likely he’ll retire. Okinoumi secured great ring position against Amuru and never yielded. As Amuru tried to maneuver, he fell victim to an Okinoumi throw.
Aminishiki went for the hatakikomi but Kitataiki maintained his balance and bulled straight through it – and straight through Aminishiki. Ikioi needs a shrink. When he gets this highly ranked, he’s just out of it. He loses again to Toyohibiki. Tochinoshin spun Takayasu and sent him into makekoshi-land. Tochinoshin improves to 6-7 with Gagamaru tomorrow. Tochiozan seems pissed he’s not in “The Leaders” anymore. He sent Sadanoumi three rows deep.
Ichinojo has had very little skill to demonstrate this basho. He’s got the size to beat the smaller guys but when he faces someone his size, he’s done. Terunofuji threw him hand stayed 2 off pace. Kaisei is still incapable of beating Kotoshogiku, he rolled over and Giku lives to fight another day. He faces Ichinojo who’ll undoubtedly roll over tomorrow.
It’s all now down to Hakuho and Kakuryu. Kakuryu forced Terunofuji to the edge and try as he might just was not able to push him over for the yorikiri win. But he still managed a throw to stay in the lead and push the shin-ozeki two losses back. Terunofuji looked to have the early edge, with position in the ring and both arms wrapped around Kakuryu’s arms. But Kakuryu was able to use his lower position to maneuver Terunofuji to the edge. Terunofuji sure dug in his heels against the yorikiri, but Kakuryu finally managed a throw.
Hakuho quickly dispatched the hapless Kotoshogiku. Hakuho faces Goeido, who has given him problems lately with four losses over the last seven tournaments, including one in May. Has Goeido found an edge? Giku faces Kaisei with Terunofuji and Ichinojo waiting in the wings, and any loss moving forward sends him down to sekiwake. It’s been a year since he’s managed 10 wins, so if he goes down, it is highly unlikely that he’ll bounce back up. He’s still getting kachi koshi in sanyaku so it’s possible he can hang around Sekiwake for a while.
Tochiozan fell earlier to Okinoumi. This may be the moment his yusho hopes were dashed. All the hard work beating two yokozuna and two ozeki may be for naught as he falls to a lowly maegashira. The Goeido loss may have put it out of reach but surely today’s match put a dagger in those hopes. He should still finish strongly these last three days if he hopes to follow Terunofuji for ozeki promotion with 33 wins over 3 tournaments. Putting up 12 here is a strong move.
It’s back to Hakuho and Kakuryu. We knew at least one of the leaders would fall off pace today since Hakuho faced Terunofuji. This lived up to the hype. It was a great bout. Terunofuji seemed to have the early edge since he had position in the center of the ring. But Hakuho is very patient. He very quickly made a move to regain the center, and as a result, Terunofuji lost his left hand grip. Hakuho then used his powerful two-handed belt grip to leverage the shin-ozeki out of the ring. Great. Bout.
Kakuryu, however, dominated Kotoshogiku from the outset. Giku can only afford to lose one more match and he has to face Hakuho tomorrow. I don’t think it will be a stretch to say he’ll be quick out of the gate tomorrow, hoping to overpower Hakuho. He also has Terunofuji, Ichinojo, and likely Kaisei left to face. Assuming he loses tomorrow to Hakuho, he cannot lose any of these other matches or he will be demoted.
Tochiozan fell to an aggressive, attacking Goeido. I like this Goeido. He wrapped his arm around Tochiozan’s head and pulled him down. Tochiozan will face Okinoumi tomorrow while Goeido faces Takekaze. At this point, Tochiozan has the advantage with a much easier schedule. The big test tomorrow, Kakuryu faces Terunofuji. Terunofuji wants to stay in the hunt while I’m sure Kakuryu wants to stay in the lead.
Endo got his kachi koshi against Kotoyuki. Kotoyuki pounced quickly but Endo withstood the charge. Kotoyuki was very aggressive, but also very straight forward and one dimensional. Endo fended off each attack and batted him down with hatakikomi. It’s great to see him back and apparently healthy. He’ll face Seiro tomorrow.
Kyokutenho, on the other hand, has been going in the opposite direction. He now has a losing record and will need to fight to stay in makuuchi. Oosunaarashi ran away from Chiyotairyu and ended up in the 3rd row of spectators. Yoshikaze picked up his winning record in a quick one against Kagamio. Amuru got a straight forward yorikiri win over GAGAMARU for kachi koshi. I’m sure he’s got special prize on his mind now.
Tochiozan continues his winning streak by slapping down Hakuho! Both are now in a crowded group at 9-1 with Kakuryu & Terunofuji. Kagamio stumbled against Amuru to slip back to 8-2. We’ve got ourselves quite a tournament. I figured everyone would be chasing Hakuho for a few days but maybe Tochiozan was inspired by the way that Terunofuji’s lightning promotion. He’s got Goeido tomorrow, the last ozeki on his schedule. From there, his path should get easier just as the other leaders’ schedules get more difficult.
Kakuryu staved off a challenge from Takarafuji to remain at 9-1. The yokozuna will face the ever-desperate Kotoshogiku. Takarafuji is tied with Ikioi (at 1-9) for the futility award. Lastly, Terunofuji outlasted Kaisei to keep it interesting. Tomorrow, the headline match has to be Hakuho vs Terunofuji so at least one man will be 10-1 at the end of the day. Meanwhile, Kagamio lost to Amuru so he’s alone in second place. He moves on to face Yoshikaze tomorrow.
Sokokurai came up from Juryo, basically to send Satoyama back down. He was on the offensive the whole time with a two handed belt grip. Satoyama basically held on as long as he could until Sokokurai’s trip finally worked. Very cool kirikaeshi. Endo (7-3) obliterated Takanoiwa with a very strong tachiai, and just didn’t stop until Takanoiwa was sitting in the shinpan’s lap. Chiyotairyu (7-3) also met Kotoyuki with a strong tachiai but then ducked to the side and let Kotoyuki flop on his belly.
Kyokutenho got a very important third win. He’ll need to win the rest to get kachi-koshi but I imagine he’s just taking it one match at a time, trying to stay in makuuchi. Tokitenku withstood Homarefuji’s slaps and gave a few good nodowa thrusts before pulling the rug out and dropping his opponent. Oosunaarashi kept Yoshikaze at arms length and beat him off the dohyo. Both stand at 7-3. We’ll have a slew of men getting their winning records tomorrow.
Sadanofuji’s one of the few that can hang with Gagamaru in the heavyweight division. Today, he outlasted the Georgian and walked him out for the yorikiri win. I’m very happy Ikioi is not more seriously injured after yesterday’s fall. He seemed fine today but his high-level futility continues. M4 and higher, he can’t buy a win, even against guys he usually beats like Kyokushuho.
I seriously think Japanese athletes and teams need to invest more in sports psychologists. Hakuho is ice when he’s in the ring. He’s cool as a cucumber. With the exception of the 2012 women’s soccer team, it seems Japanese athletes and teams in the spotlight just don’t have the confidence or the mental toughness to advance to their full potential. From Mao-chan to Kisenosato, I just don’t think their head is in the game when it’s all on the line. Ikioi shouldn’t be going down to a hatakikomi today.
Sadanoumi was no match for Aoiyama (5-5). Myogiryu also advances to 5-5 with a dominant win over Okinoumi. Tochinoshin needs to step on the gas if he wants to be in the sanyaku next tournament. It’s good time to meet Ichinojo, then. Ichinojo just hasn’t had much answer against Tochinoshin since his size is easily negated by the Georgian’s power. Kisenosato wants to stay in the hunt. Kotoshogiku came at him with everything but he withstood the charge, got position at the center of the ring and steadily pushed him out. Goeido showed great reaction time as Aminishiki attempted the henka. Goeido recovered while Aminishiki’s own momentum tripped him up.